21 December 2018

I'm in China and ABSOLUTELY *Liking* It!!

Have you seen Ellen Degeneres's new stand-up special? It's really wonderful and uplifting, as one might expect. I do not watch her daytime talk show currently, but did watch it way back when it started and I was still in college. I have read her books, and she most recently appeared on my favorite podcast, The Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard. Ellen's special is called Relatable and these are how my notes read after watching it:
  • Be kind to one another.
  • I'm a human being. I have bad days like everyone else.
  • We all do something stupid every once and a while.
  • Be on your own individual path.
  • Live your truth.
  • We are all the same. We are all relatable.

I needed to see this special at this moment in time because my job has been particularly challenging since around mid-November. But finally we are at our holiday break. And in the last couple of weeks or so, I have found a VPN that works like magic. So I have reopened all of my accounts with Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon. It's really the best thing I could've done to deal with the added stresses. 

I have also found podcasts to be a source of goodwill and happiness. I listen to a lot of cooking podcasts (although I do not have an oven and have not really cooked a thing since moving here), health-related podcasts, and my favorite that I mentioned above, The Armchair Expert

After coming home from the gym today, I listened to the most recent episode which featured Sean Hayes from Will and Grace. I wasn't quite sure how the reboot of Will and Grace would go. But quite honestly, I find it better and more honest than the original version. On The Armchair Expert, Sean spoke candidly about his family life growing up and his mentors (Steve Martin and Martin Short) and how he focused his energy on obtaining his goals. He would make lists that focused on two questions: 
  • What do you want? 
  • What are you waiting for?

People/celebrities/health coaches/academics who approach life in this manner are inspiring to me. For one, they believe--and have proven it to be true--that you can wish things into reality. Wish might be the wrong word, but I would assume that this type of activity--listing things out, putting your hopes and dreams out there--is similar to why people pray. Both goal setting and praying, and the concentration on your hopes and dreams repeatedly, are the same. 

You might remember two summers ago when I taught in Chengdu, China for 3 weeks in an English school teaching English through art making. I hated most parts of it, and vowed never again. It was the longest 3 weeks of my life. You can read more about that experience here and here.

Fast forward 19 months, and I am back in China! This surprises me as much as it might surprise you. But perspective is perspective, and place and time can make everything change. I wasn't ready for China before . . . I was in the middle of a big move, and starting a PhD program, and a new job. But after living and teaching in the United States for 2 years, being paid 1/3 of what I was paid overseas, and purchasing a car and paying for housing, I was financially, physically, and emotionally done. I was worn out and broke and unhealthy and feeling very uninspired. While I loved the people I worked with in both Lakeland, Florida and Thomasville, Georgia, it just wasn't the same energy as I had previously experienced whilst teaching overseas.

Since landing in Shanghai, China on Tuesday, August 7th at 1:30am, life has been a complete and utter adventure! Although it is incredibly challenging, I feel so blessed to be in this teaching position. And, I am so excited about my students and the work we are doing together. I eat dinner on most nights with friends who I think of as my family. We ride to school every morning together. Up until early November, I was taking Chinese classes every week with my friend Brett, which was hard and challenging. But it was also really exciting and interesting. So the hope is that I will pick these lessons back up in February when things slow down just a bit. At school, I fully participate in administrative meetings as the Arts Coordinator for my school with all Chinese speaking principals and staff. Everything on both sides has to be translated, and I just find this all so fascinating (and sometimes frustrating, depending on how things are translated).

To save time, here is a quick rundown of all of the things that I have done in the past 2.5 months (with pictures below) . . . I visited a local park called Wolf Mountain with my friend How. I went to a ballet with Brett and one of his student's families. How and Brett and I went to Shanghai together in late September, and had probably the most fun time ever--there was just so much silliness and laughing! The school sent me to Hong Kong for my Z-Pass, and I completely fell in love with that city: it's gritty and arty and fancy and all the things!!! I went back to Shanghai with Brett and was completely swept away by the food and the area of town where we stayed called the French Concession. Also, I finally got a haircut and died my hair purple and blue! Every night I eat the most amazing meals with my international family of friends. I have become obsessed with Chinese dates (miniature apples). I've gotten my toes and hands painted in the most fanciest of ways. I've ridden on the back of scooters in the craziest of traffic. I've lost 20 pounds and my blood pressure has returned to normal. I learned how to make mooncakes. I've given two giant arts-based presentations. I hosted a giant Thanksgiving feast for close to 35 people from all over the world. And, I have planned my Christmas holiday to be spent partially in Macau and partially back in Hong Kong with my friend Dorota, who teaches preschool at my school and is from Poland (we leave in 2 days).

My hope is that I can keep up with blogging as we move into 2019. I found blogging to be such a wonderful way to reflect back on things I had done in the past when I lived overseas before. But my schedule is a bit out-of-control at the moment, so we will have to wait and see. I am keeping my fingers crossed! 

Enjoy the pictures! And, please keep in touch: WeChat is the easiest and fastest!